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  • Writer's pictureKoen Van den Steen

The Making of Hubris: Inspiration, Insights and VR Development

Belgium-based game studio, Cyborn, carved its niche in virtual reality with its visually stunning action-adventure game, Hubris.


The team behind the sci-fi shooter delve into its inspiration, development insights, and how it came to be. Hubris is now available on VIVE XR Elite and VIVEPORT PCVR.


Cyborn: A Creative Powerhouse in Belgium


Cyborn B.V., founded in 1998 by owner and CEO Ives Agemans, initially began as a 3D animation company. Over the years, the studio evolved, expanding its expertise to encompass game, film, VR, AR, 3D, and mobile app projects. With a team of skilled developers, artists, animators, and engineers, Cyborn has made a mark in the gaming industry, providing game services to clients while producing its own games.


Cyborn Offices

The studio's history includes working on mobile games and creating licensed apps and games for major companies like Disney. This background laid the foundation for Cyborn to venture into new territories like VR and AR, leading to the creation of Hubris.


Hubris: A VR Adventure Like No Other


Hubris is a VR first-person shooter that takes players on an immersive journey through a unique sci-fi universe. The game's exceptional, AAA graphics have garnered widespread acclaim. Since its launch, Hubris has received numerous accolades, including being named Upload VR’s Favorite New PC VR Game for 2022.


In Hubris, you take the role of a recruit in training to become an agent of the mighty and feared Order of Objectivity, also known as the OOO. With pilot Lucia, you are sent to the planetoid belt of the twin-planet system to search for the mysterious agent Cyanha.


Hubris VR Development Insights from Cyborn


From Animation to Game Development


With a history of creating 3D animated movie productions, Cyborn gained a deep understanding of pushing realistic graphics in a 3D environment. The transition to game development was a natural progression, leveraging their expertise to create visually striking games.


Belgian Game Development Community


While Belgium may not have many big AAA studios, the presence of indie studios and institutions like Digital Arts and Entertainment in Kortrijk contributes to a thriving local talent pool. The game development community in Belgium is on the rise, driven by educational initiatives and the collaborative spirit of developers.


Choosing VR for Hubris


The decision to develop a VR title like Hubris stemmed from Cyborn's experience in film production, where VR was used for pre-visualization of motion capture and scenes. The team recognized the power and immersion VR offers to players. Despite their background in mobile development, the studio's understanding of optimizing graphics on limited hardware proved crucial for developing a VR game that delivers high-quality visuals while maintaining optimal performance.


Hubris: Behind the Scenes of Development


Sci-Fi Inspiration


Hubris Concept Art

Ives Agemans, CEO and Game Director, found inspiration for Hubris from his fascination with unique and expansive sci-fi worlds depicted in film series like Star Wars and Aliens, and writings by authors like Iain Banks. The concept for Hubris started over eight years ago as a film or series project. When the decision was made to turn it into a game, the team had a wealth of colorful concept designs and descriptions of the Hubris Universe.


Testing and Iteration in VR Game Development


Koen Van den Steen, Producer, finds the freedom of play in VR introduces a multitude of bugs, making testing crucial for a smooth gaming experience. The team released the game as a closed beta, allowing players on different headsets to provide valuable feedback alongside in-house testing.


VR Traversal Methods in Hubris


Hubris Screenshot

Hubris distinguishes itself with unique VR traversal methods, including swimming, climbing, and jumping. These methods were chosen to provide alternative movement options without inducing motion sickness. The climbing mechanic, for instance, allows players to physically gesture and move the character around, enhancing immersion and making players feel like the hero of the story.


Jumping and Platforming in VR


Adding jumping and platforming to a VR game like Hubris was a significant step, something Van den Steen found needing a balance between motion sickness and player control. The game allows players to adjust jump direction and intensity in the air, providing a smooth experience. Iterative adjustments, including coyote time and height position buffering, were implemented to enhance the feeling of jumping in VR.


Visual Excellence in Hubris


Graphics and Artistry in Hubris


Hubris Screenshot

Players widely acclaim Hubris for being one of the most beautiful VR games to date. The process starts from Agemans initial ideas and stretches to the final in-game execution. The concept team starts with rough sketches, progresses to 3D blockouts, and finally creates game-ready models. Advanced shaders and smart materials are utilized to push the quality of models within the Unreal Engine.


World Design in Hubris


Agemans finds importance in uniquely designing every object and building in the game to maintain a connection with the broader Hubris universe. The in-house concept designers ensure that each object aligns with various factions, worlds, and styles within the universe. The exterior environments leverage the Quixel library while maintaining the unique design of every object.


Lighting and Character Models


Hubris Screenshot

The lighting in Hubris plays a crucial role in creating a cinematic and immersive experience. Frederik Sallaerts, Lighting Supervisor on Hubris, found the main challenges of VR lighting were adjustments to auto-exposure and use of the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) S-curve to achieve a true-to-life and neutral-looking image.


Facial and Motion Capture


Hubris Screenshot

Hubris' supporting cast comes to life through facial and motion capture, something Van den Steed owes to integrating MetaHumans into the game's facial pipeline. While the first characters didn't rely on MetaHuman due to the timing of its release, later characters benefited from the increased iteration and delivery times offered by MetaHuman, maintaining the high graphical quality bar set for the game.


 

Hubris is now available on VIVE XR Elite, and is already available on VIVEPORT PCVR.

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